World Cup 2019 schedule announced
MALAHIDE: Pakistan to launch its quest to make sure of an automatic qualifying spot at the 2019 World Cup in England against Ireland in two one-day internationals at Malahide, near Dublin.
The bottom four teams in the standings will be joined by six sides from below cricket’s international elite for a 10-team qualifying competition in 2018. The top two sides from that tournament will complete the 10-strong line-up at the 2019 World Cup.
Pakistan has seven points following West Indies with eight points. In order to go ahead of the West Indies, Pakistan will have to win all their matches against non-Test nation Ireland and England in the upcoming month but good results in both series will help them close the gap.
Ireland is currently ranked at 12th position, a 2-0 series win over Pakistan would see them leapfrog Zimbabwe and Afghanistan into 10th place.
Only six of the Pakistan players who took part in the exciting Test series in England – which they drew 2-2 with a four-day victory at The Oval on Sunday – stay on for the ODIs, in a 15-man squad captained by Azhar Ali.
“Ireland has always been a tough team, more so in their own conditions,” Azhar told media. “If you look at their recent performances in World Cup matches they have done very well. But we have new players who are very confident,” the 31-year-old batsman added.
“The performance of the Test team is an encouragement for the ODI team so we will carry that same momentum and passion.“But the Test team has done well in England.”
Sami Aslam, Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar are the only specialist batsmen who keep their places from the Test squad along with bowlers Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah. “We have very good young spinners in Imad Waseem and Mohammad Nawaz both, then we have Yasir and Shoaib Malik so they can be handy,” said Azhar.
Pakistan’s one-day squad also features the return of experienced pace bowler Umar Gul. Gul, 32, who played against Ireland in Pakistan’s shock World Cup defeat back in 2007.
Ireland dealt a huge blow on Tuesday with the news that former England pace bowler Boyd Rankin has not only been ruled out of the series but won the rest of the season, including the ODIs in Benoni at the end of next month against South Africa and Australia.
Ireland have decided not to replace Rankin in their 14-man squad. The return of Craig Young following and the impressive ODI debut of Durham’s Barry McCarthy in the recent series against Sri Lanka.
Game held on Thursday will be the seventh ODI between both teams. Pakistan have won four, most recently in the final World Cup group game at Adelaide last year by seven wickets when both Ireland captain William Porterfield and Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed scored centuries.